Appearance of turtles at The Lough brings virus concerns

Appearance of turtles at The Lough brings virus concerns

The appearance of turtles in Cork's famous Lough amenity has sparked fears that the wildfowl sanctuary could be facing another deadly virus outbreak of its own.

As nature thrives during the coronavirus lockdown, we've seen dolphins in the canals of Venice, kangaroos on the streets of Sydney and coyotes in Chicago.

But it's believed the seven turtles which have been spotted basking on the shores of the Lough's island are unwanted pets who were released into the 'wild'.

And while the new arrivals have caused some excitement for onlookers familiar with the 'birds of the Lough', city officials have expressed concerns about the biosecurity hazards they pose.

"It's not fair on the turtles and it's not fair on the ecosystem of the Lough," a spokesman said.

"Released unwanted pets into the Lough is not the solution. It's putting the whole ecosystem at risk."

Officials are monitoring the situation and will intervene if it's felt the turtles' presence is having a negative effect.

Just two years ago, the Lough's population of carp was virtually wiped out following an outbreak of the carp edema virus.

Almost 1,000 individual carp died, with an estimated 3.8 tonnes of dead fish being removed from the fishery.

A similar outbreak occurred at a private carp fishery in Cobh at the same time and the outbreaks forced the suspension of angling at the Lough and at a number of other fisheries in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

Local Independent Cllr Mick Finn said while it was lovely to see turtles, who may be freshwater terrapins, taking the sun at the Lough, it must be pointed out that they are an invasive species and their presence does give rise to concern.

"They were probably pets at one stage, who, once no longer wanted, were simply released into the wild here," he said.

"Cities have been extremely quiet in recent weeks and there hasn't been as much pollution or interaction with the public and nature has responded. And it is great to see more wildlife in our rivers and waterways.

"But the danger here is that the Lough is such a delicate eco-system, these turtles could alter that balance.

"They could led to a virus outbreak and we could return to a situation where the Lough is off limits to people again.

"The Lough is such an amazing resource, both as a wildfowl sanctuary and as a recreational amenity, this highlights again the need for constant vigilance and for investment in it."

Terrapins, who are usually bought in pet-shops when they are the size of a brooch, can grow to over 30cm in length. Given the right care, they can live for up to 50-years.

Turtles have been a feature of Cork's Atlantic Pond for several years.

It is also believed that they too were once pets who were released into the public waterway.

More on this topic

Water safety warning issued after teens rescued from River LeeWater safety warning issued after teens rescued from River Lee

Person hospitalised after crash outside Cork cityPerson hospitalised after crash outside Cork city

Two arrested in connection with 2018 Glanmire bookies robbery  Two arrested in connection with 2018 Glanmire bookies robbery

Gardaí tell Cork cafe owner to remove outdoor seatingGardaí tell Cork cafe owner to remove outdoor seating


More in this Section

Person hospitalised after crash outside Cork cityPerson hospitalised after crash outside Cork city

Two arrested in connection with 2018 Glanmire bookies robbery  Two arrested in connection with 2018 Glanmire bookies robbery

Four arrested as police officer 'kicked in the face' while clearing crowd from Co Down beachFour arrested as police officer 'kicked in the face' while clearing crowd from Co Down beach

Church urges inquiries into Covid-19 impact on nursing homes in IrelandChurch urges inquiries into Covid-19 impact on nursing homes in Ireland


Lifestyle

A mum is campaigning to extend maternity leave to protect her baby, says Sharon Ní ChonchúirStaying safe: Cork-based mum is campaigning to extend maternity leave to protect her baby

More From The Irish Examiner